70 Years Later, Concerns of Uranium at Fort Wayne Plant

By Stephanie Parkinson

March 16, 2012 Updated Mar 16, 2012 at 6:11 PM EDT

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Indiana's NewsCenter) - A Fort Wayne steel mill is still seeing the effects of uranium used there in the 1940s. It's been 70 years since World War II and now the government is investigating the former Joslyn site. In 1945 the site was used to make parts for the government atomic weapons.

"We'll be looking at the production facilities that were in place at the time, and trying to find where the uranium operations took place, see if there is any obvious ground disturbances, or movement, where they disposed of uranium shavings or dust," said William Kowalewski, Army Corps of Engineers.

The former Joslyn Plant is now Valbruna Slater Steel. Employees that work on the site now tell INC News there is a building still standing there that they are told not to go into because it was an area where they had uranium in 1940s.

"I don't say it's blocked off, it's just not used, it's just the one buidling. The stuff is so low it's not even measurable anymore, so they want to tear the building down, but that's about all they told me," said John Davis, employee.

Although Valbruna has told employees the radiation from the uranium is not measurable, Kowalewski says there could be long term effects and there could also be areas that were overlooked.

"We've seen in the past where we might have thought that all the operations took place in a defined fence line, but when we look at the old photographs, we see impacts of some activity outside the fence line," said Kowalewski.

The Army Corps study is being done right now. Kowalewski says once that's done any contaminated areas will be treated or removed from the site, but that won't happen for at least another three years because of funding and the time it takes to finish their study.

Valbruna's plant operations manager, Tom Carlson, refused to go on camera. But he did tell Indiana's NewsCenter that closing off the building was a precautionary measure and there's no danger to employees. He said the buidling is used for storage and employees do go inside it, but are not working there daily.

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